A new report from The Information says Google is working on its own personal assistant hub, similar to Amazon’s Echo. Only recently, through a series of updates and new hardware, has the Echo grown into a gadget worthy of its original transformative promise, and Google’s apparently taken notice.
Although details about the new product are light, we do know a few things: Google is supposedly working on an Echo competitor and has no working name for the product and may never even release it. But the idea makes almost too much sense. Google has the best voice recognition and search capabilities available, which also happens to be the Amazon Echo’s greatest downfall: You can’t perform a simple Google search on the Echo.
Additionally, a lot of the software that would likely go into a Google-powered personal assistant device is already packed into millions and millions of smartphones with Google Now. The integration with this voice-powered device into other Google services could be incredibly useful. Imagine asking your household AI how long it would take to get to a friend’s house. After tapping into Google Maps, it gives you an estimated arrival time and can shoot the directions to your phone as you walk out the door. Yes, I would buy that gadget.
The other part of the equation is how this all ties in with Nest, Alphabet’s smart home division. According to The Information, Nest wanted to include this Echo clone with the rest of its smart home lineup, but Google “rebuffed” the idea. That doesn’t mean it couldn’t ultimately have Nest integration—let’s be honest it likely would—but Google is keeping this project as one of its own, at least for the time being.
When Amazon announced the Echo in 2014, it felt like a future that wasn’t ready for the big time. But with LG making its own Echo clone this past December, and other high-profile experts saying its “the next big platform for the near future,” the time for homes operated by Google’s powerful artificial intelligence may finally be here.